Saturday, 16 October 2010

Kaval on the Canal ?

I've been working in Turkey for the week.

Following the thread of my recently renewed interest in folk music, I set out to explore the world of Turkish music.

Trudging the streets of exotic and mystical Istanbul, I ignored the modern music shops with their electric guitars and saxophones to seek the Mr.Benn-like smaller shops (BBC "Watch with Mother" reference probably lost on anybody not between the age of 45-55).

The beauty of Istanbul is that they still have a Bazaar mentality. Streets are dedicated to products.

For example, you can find one street that only sells power tools.

Similarly, there is a music street.

Walking along this twisting and narrow street, it didn't take long to find a shop which was festooned with oddly shaped wooden instruments, hanging from the ceiling, like vegetables in a greengrocers.

Initially, I was interested in an Ocarina, a small wind instrument shaped like a sweet potato.

However, discovering that this is not a Turkish instrument, my interest was diverted to an assortment of wooden flutes and whistles and a gift for the first mate was sought.

Eventually, I narrowed my search to a selection of Kavals, which are a traditional shepherds flute.

With the assistance of my very good Turkish friend (the shop assistant spoke no English), the guy in the shop played each one and let me hear the musical range that they played.

I choose a long, low pitched one that through translation, I believe starts at A.
A price was negotiated, 30 Euros was parted with and I returned to the hotel, wearing the Kaval, across my back, like David Carradine walking the wilderness.
Wikipedia says that the Kaval is a chromatic end blown flute associated with mountain shepherds in the Balkans and Anatolia.
They are often played in pairs, with one person playing the melody whilst the other plays a drone harmony. The unusual thing is that the Kaval has odd holes along its length which seem to be designed to be left uncovered.
Another interesting instrument is the Cigirtma, which is traditionally made from the wing bone of an eagle - not surprisingly, the shop was fresh out of eagles wings...

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